Black Dog Newsletter for Week Ending January 3rd

Here it is folks, the last ever newsletter…for this year. And with that brings our list of our favorite and not so favorite films of the past 12 months. It hasn’t really been a banner year for films, especially the stuff oozing out of Hollywood. In fact I’m hard pressed to think of a worse year than 2010 for movies. That said we still managed to find some gems hidden among all of the detritus. So over the next couple of weeks I’ll be throwing down the Black Dog staff picks for the calendar year 2010. I’m still working on my list (have a few titles I still want to see) but some of the other staff members have submitted their submissions for your viewing pleasure.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, this week the hours at the stores will remain the same as usual with the exception of New Year’s Eve (this Friday I believe) when both stores will be open noon until 8pm. Get there early and stock up for those of you smart enough not to go out that night. We will be open noon until 11pm on Saturday for those bleary eyed folk who need a little entertainment to get them through the day.

New Releases for Tuesday December 28th

The American – Ridiculously handsome George Clooney plays “The American” (also known if France as “The American – thanks IMDB), a assassin or spy or something hiding out in Italy to do the “one last job”. Again with the one last job! I wonder if he sewed a Canadian flag on his back pack to help disguise the fact that he’s “The American”? Directed by Anton Corbin (Control). Also on Blu Ray.

Fubar 2 – Old Terry and Dean (the ultimate hosers) head north to strike it rich working the oil fields or tar sands or whatever they’re calling them now. What can one say but “giv’er”?

Handsome Harry – Well received drama about a Vietnam vet with a “big secret” who carries out the dying wish of a comrade by getting in contact with some fellow soldiers to talk about the “big secret”. I bet Harry is not nearly as handsome as George Clooney!

The Oxford Murders – Swell pedigree for this number (John Hurt, Elijah Wood, Álex de la Iglesia directs – Day of the Beast, 800 Bullets, Acción Mutante) about a college professor and grad student who team up to solve some murders or try to prevent more murders or something. I haven’t seen this but I’m hedging my bets that one of them is the murderer. I hope that I’m proved wrong.!

Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 – Part 2 of the great true French crime thriller starring Vincent Cassel (almost as handsome as George Clooney) as the titular character. Also on Blu Ray.

Resident Evil: Afterlife – This series still going on? Don’t know what it’s about, don’t really care. All I know is that Mila Jovavich shoots a bunch of zombies or mutants or whatever. Also on Blu Ray (may be a bit late on the shelves – sorry).

Teenage Paparazzo – The week of handsome men continues with dreamy Adrian Grenier (Entourage) turning the cameras on some punk paparazzo in this very entertaining (or so I’m told) doc about the nature of celebrity and the weirdos that obsess about them.

United States of Tara Season 2 – The mighty Toni Collette returns for another kick at the can in this acclaimed series about a woman functioning with dissociative identity disorder and raising a dysfunctional family.

Coming Next Week

  • The Last Exorcism
  • Baaria
  • Catfish
  • The Ricky Gervais Show Season 1
  • Machete
  • Mother and Child
  • Big Love Season 4
  • Dinner for Schmucks
  • Mao’s Last Dancer

Staff Picks (part 1) for the year 2010

Joe (Commercial)

As always my top ten includes a few movies that maybe were in theatres last year, but on DVD this year. I work in a video store so that’s how I catalogue things, by the dvd release.

The Headless Woman Directed by Lucretia Martel whose previous two films “Holy Girl” & “La Cienaga” (aka The Swamp) are also genius. She has the most unflinching camera in use today, in many ways. She captures that decadent banality of the class system better than anyone since Bunuel, in my opinion. Headless Woman continues along similar themes, but is less concerned with narrative than the earlier two. She’s stretching with this one, and I’m salivating to see what she does next.

The Maid is one of those pictures that actually pulled the wool over my seasoned viewer eyes, I thought it was treading nicely down the path of one kind of “Maid movie” ( if indeed there is such a genre, and I can’t see why there wouldn’t be) but in the end it became a wholly different kind of story. Genius performance from the lead actress. Great flick.

Tony Manero is another great Chilean movie. Tony Manero of course refers to the John Travolta Iconic white suited Saturday Night Fever character. Which by the way is a kick ass film remembered for all the wrong things. Disco is just the setting. But I digress. The main character in this film is also kind of obsessed with SNF, he wants to make it on to a local dancing TV game show where they are looking to crown Chile’s “Tony Manero”. The tension comes from the fact that the guy is despite being well liked by some, a complete sociopath. It must be seen to be believed, the casualness of his brutality. Yet somehow we’re pulling for this psycho? Yes, yes we are.

Fishtank is a great little indy drama from sophomore director Andrea Arnold, whose first film “Red Road” I had no choice but to re-watch directly after watching Fishtank, so much did I still want to be part of Arnold’s universe. The main character is a young high school girl who just wants to dance and get out of her party time very young herself still mom’s house and the life there… Mom starts dating a nice guy for a change, and things seem to take a familiar turn, or do they? Very grown up look at that stuff we don’t talk about.

The Eclipse has absolutely nothing to do with Twilight or stupid angsty teen vampires. It has to do with big time real Irish actors doing their thing in an old fashioned ghost story/romance triangle. It’s a fractured surreal triangle at best, which is what gives this film it’s edge, that, and the good old fashioned eeek it’s a ghost kind of scares it contains once in a while. Cieran Hinds is genius in this, Aidan Quinn is himself, and then some. Nice little movie with no pretensions to be more or less than it is.

The Cry Of The Owl is not for everyone with it’s murky cinematography and old fashioned melodrama acting, but for those who enjoy that kind of thing, like me, this is a joy, this film. Like a Val Lewton Produced Douglas Sirk movie maybe? The darkness I guess comes from the fact it’s a Patricia Highsmith story. She was a master of mood, and spare about it at the same time… much like this movie. Julia Stiles deserves some kind of award for her creepy girl turn here. Owls crying, indeed.

Mother The latest from Joon Ho Bong the Korean director behind Memories of Murder, as well as The Host. This film covers much of the same territory of memories of murder, and even has some actors recurring roles (or at least very similar types, it wasn’t addressed at all.) as it’s set in a small town with small town cops covering everyone’s dirty secrets. The Mother in question is the mother of the most recent patsy to be arrested for killing a young girl. Riveting performance, and despite it’s familiar setting is really nothing like Memories Of Murder, and maybe even as good, I need to see both films again before making that judgement.

The Killer Inside Me is again not for everyone. It only has a small number of violent scenes, but those are graphic in a nigh harrowing fashion. I know many who couldn’t watch those scenes at all, hiding their eyes, or just fast forwarding ahead. So be warned. That said It’s yet another masterpiece from Michael Winterbottom. Bravura film making, coaxes a nomination worthy performance out of Casey Affleck. Very decent adaptation of the classic Jim Thompson novella.

Sleep Dealer is a classy little bit of Sci-Fi which is hard to come by these days. Set in the pretty near future, water is scarce, and people often work using virtual reality to control robots doing jobs often in other parts of the world. All the military is by proxy as well of course, and all private. The army works for whoever hires them. A young Mexican hacker ends up in Tijuana learning about this much more realistic Matrix than The Matrix ever was, setup, while sending money home to his folks. There are acts of rebellion, the world changes ever so slightly. I felt like all the future tech they used could easily come to pass in 10-20 years.

Valhalla Rising is a film that many loathe, and misunderstand. It’s bound to be compared to Cobra Verde, or other Herzogian visions. but that’s not a bad thing to my mind.. Mads Mikkelsen excels as the one eyed enslaved ruthless killer who lives to entertain others with bloodsport. Eventually he follows some crusaders towards the Holy Land for a crusade, but they take a wrong turn at Vinland….I found this little slice of mood and mise en scene to be hypnotic and it stayed in my dreams & thoughts for days afterwards.

This Is England 86’ (special mention: on TV in Merry Olde during 2010, hopefully on DVD here soon as fricking possible!) Is the even better than sequel to The Great Shane Meadows’ “This Is England” from a few years back. All the same actors return a few years older, and well, not really that much wiser, and of course a great many bad things happen. There is especially one scene that would be hard to take for many, but otherwise there is lots of humour and dignity in this 80’s saga. I’d love to see more actually.

Torsten (Commercial)

1) The Headless Woman (Argentina)
2) A Serious Man (USA)
3) Tony Manero (Chile)
4) My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (USA)
5) Valhalla Rising (GB/Dan)
6) The Maid (Chile)
7) North Face (Germany)
8) Terribly Happy (Denmark)
9) Winter’s Bone (USA)
10) This Is Britain 86 (GB)

worst movie of 2010 by a mile “The American”!

John (Cambie)

The best films of the year, in order, were:

ANOTHER YEAR (easily the best)

The worst film of the year was SEX AND THE CITY 2 and shame on me for
watching it.

Shioby (Cambie)

fish tank – andrea arnold
the killer inside me – michael winterbottom
valhalla rising – nicholas winding refn (BEST BLOOD AND GORE I’VE SEEN ALL YEAR <3 )
Red Riding trilogy – julian jarrold, james marsh, and anand tucke
who is harry nilsson (and why is everyone talking about him?) – john scheinfeld
crumb – criterion collection release – terry zwigoff

i won’t list off the films i didn’t think were amazing, but can we have more gore in 2011?


And a seasonal greeting from Ricky Gervais…

Here’s a list of someone’s guilty pleasures from 2010. I can’t say that I agree as if it’s pleasurable, why should you feel guilty about liking it. I have no qualms saying that Jackass 3-D was the most fun I had in the theatre this year. Anyways, for your consideration..

Anyways, that’s it for this my lovelies, hope that you all have a great week (especially if you have it off) and have a safe New Year’s Eve and what not. Talk at you next year!

Black Dog Video

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